"The Memphis Belle," directed by William Wyler, is a tribute to the crew
of the United States Air Force's 324th Squadron, 91st Heavy Bomber Unit,
an airplane more familiarly known as the Memphis Belle. At the beginning
of the film, the Belle's crew had successfully completed twenty-four
missions in the toughest theater of the air war in Europe, flying
bombing raids deep into Nazi territory. Cameras accompany the Belle on
its twenty-fifth mission. If the crew returns with its mission
accomplished, they will qualify for release from active duty, to be sent
home as teachers and heroes. The film provides a first-person
perspective of a World War II bombing raid, showing how it feels to be
threatened by "flak [enemy fire] so thick you can get out and walk on
it." Much of the film salutes those less fortunate than the crew of the
Memphis Belle, who wear the weight of their experience in "faces [that]
have watched their comrades die."
May 15, 2011 Subject:
Glad to have seen this.
After having seen 'memphis belle, the movie' a lot of times and read the book on it, i'm glad to have stumbled upon this documentary. I never knew the belle really did exist and the crew of the movie were fictional -as was their last flight-.
Honor and respect fly out to those who layed their lives on the line, and those who lost it. I doubt at the time anyone of the flight crews considered themselves a hero but in my book they all were.
Thanks to the u.s. gov for enabling everyone to whatch this documentary and contemplate the importance of it.
Thanks to the crews for helping all of us in europe to freely speak our minds without fear of being shot for having the wrong color, being of the wrong race and whatnot and ridding the world of the biggest brutality it has seen in centuries.
April 26, 2011 Subject:
You can really feel the tension watching this footage. After seeing movies and reading stories of the war, its amazing to be there with those guys in the planes. I admire them.
November 12, 2010 Subject:
17's over the Crystal Blue
My dad Ernest Anders Erickson flew 17's out of Ipswich in the UK from 1942-1944. I grew up hearing the stories and seeing this film brings a lot of them back.
Funny as a kid I so wanted to fly bombers over Europe.
As a kid i wanted to be Willie Mays and as a kid I thought what my did was the greatest thing in the world, and in many ways I still do.
At 88 he is still kicking and we talk of the war sometimes. It changed his life and so many others.
Thanks for posting this film. Great to see all this in color.
September 30, 2007 Subject:
A fine war report
and a fitting tribute to those brave men who went out on missions for eight to ten hours at a time, flying in unheated and un-pressurized aircraft, bouncing along over the continent of Europe at 10,000 feet, forty degrees below zero temperatures, breathing oxygen through a rubber apparatus in skies hostile with deadly anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighter aircraft shooting at them with machine-gun and 20-mm cannon fire. Many - too many - did not return.
July 9, 2006 Subject:
When My Dad Was Young
My father did this crazy business, i.e., flying over Germany in World War II as a gunner on a B-17. They bombed a whole bunch of stuff. They got Sehweinfort. They got Hamburg, They got Wilhemshaven. They even got Berlin. My dad had no politics in those days; hell, he was only 19 years old (where were we when we were 19?).
I rate this one a big fat 5 because of the truly frightening tale it tells about a war that was REAL, not the phony and contrived "conflicts" that America wastes its time and its youth on these days. My dad's war was real. Its issues were clear. Memphis Belle is a universal story of that conflict that is timeless and yet still immediate. It is a story of heroes who didn't want to be. They just were.
May 27, 2006 Subject:
The Memphis Belle
I was seven years old when the Memphis Belle made its last flight. I never saw the film. I didn't need to, I was busy conducting my own reconnaisance at the large aerodrome which dominated our village in the South of England. The film brought back to me the fascination of huge metal birds that flew, even though I was certain they would never get off the ground.
There was a film made later after the war with the same title (directed by Michael Caton Jones) but it did not hit me with the same impact as the original. I think its authenticity is, if you had ever been involved in a world war, awesome and at the same time frightening; you know it happened once and there's an uneasy feeling that the same can (in one form or another) happen again. I closed my eyes while watching for a moment and listened to the droning of the aircraft; and I was back there once more in the little village with the big aerodrome. This film is not an entertainment film, (although in a few places there is suspense enough) it is visual truth of a terrible time that should have taught us many things. Somehow, I don't think we got the complete message. Given the chance, man is only too eager to assert his dominance over others.
April 15, 2006 Subject:
When watching this documentary, one gets a sense of what these airmen felt as they carried out their orders to protect the freedom of their homeland.
February 9, 2006 Subject:
Bally Jerry Pranged His Kite Right in the Hows-Your-Father!
This film gives the viewer a taste of what it was like to be an Air Force pilot during World War II and go on a bombing run. All the footage is real, shot during actual aerial combat. That and the second-person narration give the film an exciting you-are-there feeling. But there's grit as well as glamour in the job, and the film doesn't skirt that either. If Kill or Be Killed gives you a taste of what the infantry solider went through, this film does the same for the bomber crews of the Air Force. A very effective piece of propaganda, based on reality.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: P. Weirdness: Historical Interest: Overall Rating: $$$$.